Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


A letter from Ursula to John in which she happily describes the layout and decorative looks of their new house. To give John a better detailed imagination, she complements her descriptions by including hand drawn diagrams of both the downstairs and upstairs and the positioning of their furniture in each room. Ursula also explains how effective many of the new cooking and heating appliances are in their day to day use and in making the home more comfortable. Concludes with mention of financial matters and of future plans for house.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with hand drawn diagrams


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To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine, From Mrs. J. Valentine,
British P.O.W. No. 487, Felmersham,
Stalag Luft III, Germany. Bottrell’s Lane,
[postmark] GEPRUFT 25 [/postmark] R 22/2 Chalfont St. Giles.

Sunday December 5th 1943

My darling Johnnie,

We have now been a whole week in our new house and I am getting fonder and fonder of it as time goes on. I certainly haven’t been so happy since you have been missing, so what it will be like with you here too, I love to picture myself. It really is a pleasant little house, easy to look after and well planned. The Triplex grate in the diningroom is a great institution (no pun intended), we get nice hot baths every night, a warm dining-room all day long (I haven’t got the Cozystove fixed yet so we are living in here for the time being), a warm kitchen too, for the boiler is in there and it is excellent for drying and airing the washing, and in addition a good oven, in which I yesterday cooked the week’s roast, complete with apple-pie and jam tarts and a chocolate cake (sorry if it makes your mouth water), but it was all well cooked, and all with the same small fire. I have now got a book of instructions from the makers and am getting better results. I light the fire first thing in the morning and after breakfast open the oven flue and cook baked potatoes, milk puddings and what have you in there during the morning, and when they’re done I switch over to the boiler flue and heat up the water, which is actually never cold. In the evenings I sit by the fire - it could hardly be more economical.

But enough of this technical housewifery. You want to know about the house itself. I intend to draw a sketch map which should make the layout clear, so I will describe the rooms. The [underlined] sitting-room [/underlined] is distempered cream (I did that when I first came up, you remember), the fireplace is red-brick, the door, the mantlepiece etc dark oak. The carpet is that pale sage green one that used to be in the back bedroom at Lido - you don’t remember it of course. The Chinese chest stands in the window, piano on the left, desk on the right and walnut cabinet opposite, settee, big armchair and 2 occasional chairs scattered about to taste. My Chinese lady hangs over the desk, and the chiming electrical clock on the mantlepiece. [Downstairs layout diagram of house] I haven’t put any other pictures up in there yet. [underlined] Diningroom [/underlined] contains our lovely walnut furniture, my pride and joy. The curtains are those striped cotton Indian ones Mother sent, in shades of blue, reds and green and the chairs are covered in the same material, and I think it all looks very gay. Our wooden bowls and the handsome box of fish-knives Mrs. Lowe gave us stand on the side board, the painted tile tray I bought last Christmas is on the mantlepiece, over the Triplex, and I have hung in here that big picture of yours of Ostende and the two small water-colours and one of mine that goes with them. The canteen cupboard is also in here, and one of the Persian rugs. The walls are at present papered in a dull brownish colour with unnecessary and displeasing dados stuck on, and I intend to strip it and paint it a clear light colour as soon as I can. The floor is going to be polished, when I have finished with it!

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[Upstairs layout diagram of house] The kitchen is very jolly, painted in blue and cream, with glazed dresser similar to the one in Lido, a small electric cooker, which I only need to use occasionally and in the summer, sink with a marvellous electric hot water heater over it. I understand it is thermostatically controlled and it gives piping hot water, Of course there is always hot water from the Triplex, but it is nice for washing-up. I have bought an old washstand with marble top for £1 which is doing duty as kitchen table, and a chair for 1/- which I am going to paint to match the room, and I shall also need another small cupboard of some sort. There is a space between cooker and sink for a refrigerator, but alas when I asked your Mother about the one she said we could have, she said it had been sold to someone else. Still, I daresay we shall be able to hire one after the war. The cooker and water-heater are on hire, and I am going to try and get an electric kettle. I have got a lovely copper kettle which stands on the hob of the Triplex all day and is generally nearly boiling. In the [underlined] Hall [/underlined] stand our light-oak tea-trolley and one of the dining chairs. Mother has given us the staircarpet from the landing at Lido which exactly fits our stairs and looks quite nice. Two other strips cover the landing. Upstairs the [underlined] bathroom [/underlined] is painted blue-green and cream, with enclosed bath, bowl and W.C. and heated towel-rail. The bath isn’t as long as Lido’s, but the W.C. is such as my Cousin Les would approve! Our [underlined] bedroom [/underlined] is painted primrose with a blue dado, which happens to match exactly the blue brocade curtains Mrs. Lyle gave me. Our furniture looks as nice as ever, the floor is polished wood with so far only two minute mats on it. I have written to David Haes about making us a bookcase for the diningroom, a built-in one, and also asked him if he could make us a corner fitment for our bedroom consisting of hanging cupboard for your clothes and shelves for our shoes. I haven’t had his reply yet, but it may prove too expensive, though we really must have more space to correspond to the white cupboard at Lido. The [underlined] Nursery [/underlined] is a very pleasant sunny room, painted a lightish tan the same as the hall and landing. I have got the cretonne curtains from the Lido nursery in there, and have made and fitted a shelf with rod to hang her clothes on in the deep recess by the window and fireplace. I want to put another shelf underneath for her shoes with space below for the doll’s bed, the whole hidden by a curtain. On the door side of the fireplace is a narrower deep recess and I intend to put shelves in there for toys. Otherwise there is only the cot and your old tallboy and the nursing chair in the room and an old rug from Lido which I must replace when possible. I hope to paint the tallboy soon to match the highchair, which at present is in use in the diningroom. The [underlined] spare bedroom [/underlined] at present contains only our antique mahogany chest of drawers and a few trunks. I hope to get a bed as soon as possible, so that people can come and stay with me, and would like to put up a corner fitment with curtain for hanging space - what a shame we lost that lovely bedroom suite, it would have made this room complete. However, we are lucky not to have lost more.

I have now transferred my bank account to the branch of Barclays at Gerrards Cross, with a credit of £145. This includes, according to my bookkeeping, £87 in the Establishment account- did I tell you that I have started a new section called Establishment for the initial expenditure on the house as apart from running expenses? I still put the usual into L.A. and house accounts, the new account is made up of cash savings certs and the £50 you sent (the £100 having gone towards the purchase of the house itself.) I am getting an estimate for having the outside of the house painted, which it needs, and that, the bed and curtains for the sittingroom will come out of E account. Thanks for your P.C. of 25. Sept. Have so much to tell you, must keep it till next time. All my love, hope you are not too cold. Frances asked me to send you a kiss. Yours always, Ursula.

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Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 14, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20072.

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